1,000 people attend celebration of life for Abbotsford, B.C., stabbing victim

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About 1,000 people attended a celebration of life Saturday afternoon for the 13-year-old victim of a random attack at a school in Abbotsford, B.C.

The service for Letisha Reimer, which moved to Central Heights, the largest church in the city, took place at 2 p.m. PT.

“We know [people] will come because they knew Letisha, but there will probably be others who probably didn’t know her but were impacted by this story,” said pastor Matt Ewert.

South Abbotsford Church Pastor Matt Ewart

South Abbotsford Church pastor Matt Ewert says it will take time to heal from the tragic death of Letisha Reimer. (Doug Kerr/CBC)

Ewert is the lead pastor at the South Abbotsford Church, where Reimer was part of the congregation. But it only holds about 600 people, so the service was moved to Central Heights.

He said the service will feature tributes to Reimer, speakers recollecting moments of her life and some of her favourite songs.

One step in grieving process

“I don’t think there are any words in one service that can heal what has gone on. Grief is a process and this is hopefully just another step in the process,” Ewert said.

The service was open to anyone who feels they have been touched by Reimer’s tragic death, which followed a stabbing at Abbotsford Senior Secondary School on Nov. 1 that left another teenage girl wounded.

Since the stabbing, thousands of students, parents and community members have gathered at several vigils in Abbotsford.

Ewert says coming together to grieve is part of the healing process.

“There still is a residual scar of having gone through something like this, but I do have faith that some wholeness can be regained,” he said.

“You’re never the same afterwards, but I think there can be healing along the way.”

Abbotsford memorial

A memorial for Letisha Reimer, a 13-year-old student who was fatally stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary, was immediately set up outside her school. (Dennis Dossman/CBC)

Friends, community share in grief

Luke Pauls, who attended South Abbotsford Church with Reimer, said she was always a positive presence.

“She just always had a smile on her face, bringing smiles to everybody else,” he said.

Fellow churchgoer Jonathan Goldschmidt echoed the sentiment.

“She could never sit still,” Goldschmidt said. “She was always moving and doing something. She always wanted to be hands-on and helping people out.”

Letisha Reimer memorial

The pews of Central Heights church in Abbotsford, B.C., began to fill up in advance of a memorial service for Letisha Reimer. (Anita Bathe/CBC)

For many of Reimer’s friends, the reality of her passing is still just setting in.

“You feel a bit sick to your stomach — like, why would this have happened?” said Anna Manuel.

“You hear about school shootings all the time, and you just think, it’ll never affect me, it’ll never affect my community that I feel so safe in.”

“It’s like there’s a big hole in our church,” said Meredith Sherwood.

“There’s just a big hole where she should’ve been.”

With files from Anita Bathe.

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1,000 people attend celebration of life for Abbotsford, B.C., stabbing victim

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